Alleged killer to stay in jail

ACCUSED of arson and of murdering her lover in a Goonellabah house fire, Sharyn Strickland will remain in jail after a Lismore Local Court magistrate refused to grant bail for the badly-burned woman.

Magistrate Robyn Denes refused bail because of concerns Strickland, if released, would be living with her estranged husband, Matthew Strickland, under the roof of his mother, Margaret Strickland, 81, at her home in Bowral, NSW.

Like his estranged wife, Mr Strickland has a history of alcohol and drug abuse and Ms Denes questioned whether he would lead the accused astray. She also took into account the Crown’s allegation Strickland used mower petrol to start thefatal blaze, and no rehabilitation plans for drugs and alcohol had been addressed in the court.

Ms Denes said she believed Margaret Strickland was not aware of an earlier allegation by the Crown that her daughter-in-law tried to commit suicide in 2008 (by placing an electric heater beneath her bed blankets).

During the two-day bail application by defence lawyer Hugh van Dugteren, the Crown raised its concerns there was a risk of Strickland doing self-harm because of police allegations she previously caused a fire in 2008 at her home in a suicide attempt, and that the fatal February fire had also been a suicide attempt.

Strickland is charged with the murder of boyfriend Matthew Tansley, 35, on February 8 this year; and with maliciously setting fire to a dwelling house whenpeople were inside at 10.45pm on February 6. Mr Tansley died in Royal Brisbane Hospital 31 hours later as a result of his burns.

In police documents before the court, the badly burned Mr Tansley allegedly told police at the fire scene, ‘she poured four litres of fuel, lit the place up’, and told ambulance staff ‘she’s done it again’.

Giving evidence yesterday, Margaret Strickland replied ‘yes, for years and years’ when asked whether her son and the accused had drug or alcohol problems, but she was not aware if her son was still using.

Mr van Dugteren also argued the accused, by remaining in jail, would not receive appropriate medical care with no regular access to a physiotherapist or exercise to help in the treatment of burns suffered to 54 per cent of her body.

The matter was adjourned until February.

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